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[352] to the Congress. In several efforts to ‘turn upon her keel,’ she struck bottom. So much time was lost in the attempt to clear the shoal as to arouse our fears that she was fast aground. Finally, Admiral Buchanan was compelled to run the ship a short distance up James river in order to wind her. ‘During all this time,’ he says, ‘her keel was in the mud and she moved but slowly. Thus we were subjected twice to all the heavy guns of the shore batteries; but in the double passage inflicted much injury, having blown up a large transport steamer alongside the wharf at Newport News; sunk one schooner and captured another.’ In this period of respite, as we learned from prisoners after the fight, the crew of the Congress were under the impression that the Virginia was hauling off; and in this belief the ship's company assembled on the spar deck and gave three hearty cheers for their fancied victory. Alas for them! that hope was destined to extinguishment in the very moment of its indulgence. Gathering headway on her new course, the great ironclad crept up to a position from which her guns raked the Congress with terrible effect. The smaller steamers redoubled their fire. Under this concentration of attack the ship soon became a wreck. Most of her guns were disabled; her decks were strewn with dead and wounded, the commanding officer had been stricken at his post. Again the trained eye of our boatman was the first to detect a crisis, and his eager voice the first to announce the end. He waved his battered hat toward the Congress with stentorian cheers, and through a rift in the sulphorous vapor even the unpracticed vision of landsmen could detect the absence of the strong ensign which lately floated over the ship. A second later a white flag streamed at their gaff and half-mast and another at the main.

An incident ensued of which the writer could comprehend little at the time of its occurrence, but of which a better understanding than has yet been conveyed in print can be gathered by comparison of the contemporaneous Federal and Confcderate reports. Immediately subsequent to the cessation of firing I saw the Beaufort approach the Virginia, apparently for orders, and then dash under the side of the disabled enemy, followed later by the Raleigh. We looked for nothing further in that direction than formal completion of the surrender, and gave attention to the movements of the Minnesota in the offing. The tugs left the wreck, and then an open boat from the Virginia was seen to pull across the intervening space; and then, to our surprise, the shore batteries reopened, the boat was recalled, and the Virginia poured shot after shot into the


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